The Beatles song that describes every Major League Baseball team
By Dan Holmes October 15, 2019
This year marks the 50th anniversary of Abbey Road, a record many people feel is the Beatles greatest achievement. In the spirit of the “Fab Four,” here’s a look at the Beatles song that best represents each of the current major league baseball teams.
“It’s Been a Hard Day’s Night”
Over the last quarter century the Bucs have had only four winning seasons, and only three times have they made the playoffs. They just fired their manager, jettisoned several of their core players, and seem intent on a rebuild. Attendance has plummeted in the Steel City to less than 1.5 million. There was a time when the Pittsburgh Pirates were one of the premier teams in the league. Now, they drift and meander through each season, a filler franchise just taking up space.
“It Won’t Be Long”
The Milwaukee Brewers have now posted three consecutive strong seasons and made it to the playoff dance the past two years. With Christian Yelich, promsing young pitchers, and a daring manager in Craig Counsell, the Brewers seem to be on the precipice of a trip to the World Series.
“The Long and Winding Road”
Like the Pirates, the Cincinnati Reds are mired in the worst extended doldrums in franchise history. Since they captured the 1990 World Series, the Reds have only made the postseason four times and the last time they won a playoff series was 1995. A proud franchise, the Reds made a few trades last season that may signal a willingness to compete. But it has indeed been a long and winding road for this team, now on their third manager on the last two seasons.
“Good Day Sunshine”
It’s never a bad time to be a fan of the St. Louis Cardinals. Every year is sunny and every day at the ballpark is brightened by red and yellow and birds chirping. Well, maybe birds aren’t always chirping, but it seems that way. The Cardinals are a model franchise who always have a supply of solid players in the pipeline. No rebuilds for the Redbirds, they haven’t had a losing season since the last millennium. This season marks the tenth time since 2000 that the Cardinals have advanced to the League Championship Series. They switch out players, lose pitchers to injury, even change managers, and still soar along as one of the more successful teams in the game. It’s great to be a Cardinals fan:
Good day sunshine Good day sunshine Good day sunshine I need to laugh, and when the sun is out I’ve got something I can laugh about I feel good, in a special way I’m in love and it’s a sunny day
“Not A Second Time”
The mini-dynasty seems to have come to an end. Gone is Joe Maddon, the ultra-hip, hands-off media darling who guided the Cubs to a title and broke The Curse of the Billy Goat in 2016. The Chicago Cubs most likely won’t be able to hold onto the core players from that exciting championship year, and who knows how long (still young) Theo Epstein will stay in the Windy City to retool this franchise. Is Cubs Nation due for another long wait for their second title this century?
The Los Angeles Dodgers are loaded to compete for a few more years, it’s “high times” for Dodger fans as they have captured the last seven division titles in the sunny NL West. But ace Clayton Kershaw’s best days were, well…yesterday. It’s a time of transition for Kershaw, and time for the Dodgers to stop living in the past, even with their future still looking so bright. Will Kershaw successfully reshape himself into a savvy pitcher or continue to cling to his power-pitching (yester)days?
Suddenly, I’m not half the man I used to be There’s a shadow hanging over me Oh, I believe in yesterday
It’s been five years since the San Francisco Giants won their last World Championship, earning baseball’s crown for the third time in five seasons. The on-field genius during that magic run was Bruce Bochy, who just retired. Most of the players who sparked the G-Men to their postseason successes are gone or even retired. Madison Bumgarner seems next to go. The Beatled finished up their epic medley on side two of Abbey Road with “The End”, a rare Fab Four jam session that served as a perfect goodbye as the band finally broke apart. The Giants are no more, and like the breakup of the Beatles, who knows what the future holds?
And in the end the love you take Is equal to the love you make
“The Fool On The Hill”
Team owner Charles Monfort is one of the most controversial figures in baseball, and for more than two decades he’s presided over a Colorado Rockies team that exhibits little cohesion. In 2007 they road a late-season hot stretch to the World Series that was more like catching lightning in a bottle than evidence that the front office knows what they’re doing. The best thing Monfort could do is to sell this team to someone committed to keeping the Rockies in Denver, and willing to spend money to improve the organization.
Things are too bad in the desert, but the Arizona Diamondbacks still have a feel about them. A feel of “where the hell is this going?” and “who is in charge?” It’s an uncertainty, fueled by front office shakeups over the last few seasons.
“I Should Have Known Better”
Call this the Ode to Manny Machado. The star third baseman signed a huge contract with the San Diego Padres before the 2019 season, but it’s probable that he will someday regret it. Or, given Manny’s propensity for laziness, maybe it’s the Padres who will be singing “I should have known better.”
“We Can Work It Out”
But can they? The Philadelphia Phillies consistently project an air of confidence, they want their fan base to know that the adults are in charge. But are they? Days after the 2019 season concluded, the Phils fired manager Gabe Kapler after two seasons where he kept the speedomoter right on 55, but couldn’t get his team into the postseason. Kapler had his problems in the dugout, and the clubhouse wasn’t always a happy place, but the real dysfunction seems to exist in the office suite. Managing partner and president John Middleton casts a large shadow on his young GM, Matt Klentak. Can those two get the Phillies back on track?
Life is very short, and there’s no time For fussing and fighting, my friend. I have always thought that it’s a crime, So I will ask you once again. Try to see it my way, Only time will tell if I am right or I am wrong. While you see it your way There’s a chance that we may fall apart before too long.
“Getting Better” OR “Here Comes The Sun”
The Atlanta Braves have some of the best young players in baseball, and are coming off two straight division titles. With the (mostly) floundering franchises in the NL East, the Braves seem poised to dominate for several years.
“I’m A Loser” OR “You Never Give Me Your Money”
Oh Derek Jeter, why didn’t you retire to your mansion on the beach? What could have possessed you to want to tackle the Miami Marlins problem? The Marlins are a mess, they have been for years. If it’s not a manager making insensitive comments, it’s owners bolting for greener pastures. The current ownership group (which includes the former Yankee captain as a minority partner) has refused to pay to have a good team on the field. Interesting philosophy, considering Derek cashed hundreds of millions of dollars of checks from the Steinbrenner’s during his career. Jeter has gutted the team of MLB talent, leaving a dreadful roster wearing dreadful uniforms in a dreadful ballpark. At least the beach and Miami nightlife isn’t far away, and the manager is a good man.
“Maxwell’s Silver Hammer”
The Washington Nationals have finally vanquished their postseason demons and won the first pennant in D.C. since Calvin Coolidge was sitting mum in the White House. Back then it was Walter Johnson playing the role of legendary pitching ace, and in 2019 it’s Max Scherzer, the man with the golden arm and the silver hammer fastball.
“Strawberry Fields Forever”
What’s going on in New York with the Mets? Despite having one of baseball’s most talented pitching staffs, the team has missed the playoffs the last three years. They just fired their manager for the second time in two years, and they have a former player agent calling the shots in the front office? The New York Post might be happy about this drama, but fans are not. The Mets have been waiting since 1986 (could that have been 30+ years ago?) to hoist a World Series trophy. (Darryl) Strawberry Fields Forever, indeed.
If the New York Yankees don’t win it all this October, it will mark ten years since they were World Series champions. In Yankee Fan Years that’s 50 human years. It’s unacceptable, unrecognizable, and an unmitigated shame. If George Steinbrenner were alive, he would fire everyone with a pulse in Yankee Stadium. If George’s sons were alive, they might do something about it.
The Yanks are trying to “get back to where they once belonged”, and it’s been a difficult challenge because they’ve been forced to watch the Red Sox win four titles in the last 15 seasons, two since the last time New York hoisted the trophy. It’s shaping up to be the Red Sox century, and that can’t feel good in the Bronx.
“Baby, You’re a Rich Man” OR “Taxman”
John Henry, the owner of the Boston Red Sox, has raised the expectations in his organization so much that winning a championship isn’t enough. The team has to play for a championship every year or heads will roll. The latest head to get chopped off was that of Dave Dombrowski, who built a team that won three division titles and a World Series in his first three seasons. But winning 84 games in 2019 wasn’t acceptable and Dombrowski wasn’t even kept around to finish the season. When you’re filthy rich and have a championship pedigree like Henry, you can be impatient. This offseason, Henry has admitted that the Red Sox will probably have to trim tens of millions of salary to avoid MLB’s revenue share “Taxman”.
“Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown)” OR “Blackbird”
There was a time when the Baltimore Orioles were the envy of baseball. Yes, really. If you’re under the age of 40 you don’t believe that, but there was a time when the O’s won 90 games like it was a bodily function. Those days are gone and they might not come back very soon. The team is owned by 90-year old Peter Angelos, who used to spend money unwisely on his baseball players. Now he doesn’t spend much at all. The Birds have lost 225 games the last two years, which is hard to do, unless your bird has flown. Chirp chirp chirp…
“Blue Jay Way” OR “Only A Northern Song”
The Toronto Blue Jays are in transition, seeding their big league roster with talented youngsters, many of them the chicks from former major league big birds. With a Biggio, Bichette, and Vlad Guerrero in the lineup, the baby birds are getting ready to jump from the nest and soar…okay that’s more than enough bird metaphors. You get the idea, the Jays are migrating in the right direction.
“You Can’t Do That”
No other team in baseball is as innovative as the Tampa Bay Rays, who do things their way and march to beat of their own drum. Aggressive defensive shifts? Check. Using an opener? Check? Abandoning set reliever roles? Check? Launch angle? Check. Steal a base now and again? Check? The Rays don’t give a damn, and if you tell them “you can;t do that,” they’ll do it anyway. In spite of one of the lowest payrolls in baseball, the Rays have used their brains well enough to make the playoffs five times in the last dozen seasons.
“The Continuing Story of Bungalow Bill”
Deep in the jungle where the mighty tiger lies Bill and his elephants were taken by surprise So Captain Marvel zapped in right between the eyes All the children sing Hey, Bungalow Bill What did you kill Bungalow Bill?
I suppose we could have chosen “Happiness is a Warm Gun”, it’s Texas after all.
“You say you want a revolution?” Well you know, the folks in Houston are having one. The Astros are leading the sport into a new age of player development, analytics, game strategy, and roster-building. So far, about five years into it, the Astros are making history, and they seem to be loaded with enough young prospects to compete for a long time. What will happen though, when the revolutionaries become the bourgeoisie?
“Money (That’s What I Want)”
Poor Billy Beane. Literally…poor Billy Beane, the chief architect of a “Have-Not” baseball dynasty with no jewels to show for their efforts, thus far. Who knows if the low payroll is the reason for Beane’s 0-for-10 record in the postseason, but the boy genius will need to find a pot of gold or learn to win in the playoffs without superstars to change his luck.
” Nowhere Man “
He’s a real nowhere man Sitting in his nowhere land Making all his nowhere plans for nobody
In his nine seasons with the Los Angeles Angels, Mike Trout has played three playoff games and had exactly one hit (a home run) in the national spotlight. Once again in 2019 he was the most dynamic player in the game, quickly inching his way up the list of greatest to ever step on a diamond. Arguably he’s the best player baseball has seen since Willie Mays, but two-thirds of the time he’s playing in games that start at 10 EST, so who really sees him? Signed to play for the Angels through 2030, the greatest baseball player of his generation is truly a “nowhere man.”
The fans in the northwest have a lot of great memories from Seattle Mariners baseball the last twenty-five years. There’s Junior, Edgar, Big Unit, ARod, 116 wins, and Ichiro. It appears they’ve seen the last of King Felix Hernandez now too, so what does the franchise have to show for it? Memories, that’s all, which leaves Seattle fans with one constant: the rain.
“Let It Be”
The Cleveland Indians are still waiting for their first World Series title since 1948. They’ve come close, ohhhh so close, a few times. They lost the Fall Classic in 1995, and again in 1997 in seven games. Three years ago they lost in seven excruciating games to the Cubs. The Cubs!
Can’t the baseball gods just Let It Be?
This is only going to get more miserable. The folks in charge of the Detroit Tigers have no idea what they’re doing. They think they’re following a blueprint created by the Astros and Cubs, but fail to realize they aren’t as smart as those teams were in their rebuilds. The Tigers think hiring a few more analytics people will help them catch up, help them play the shifts better, understand how to develop players with winning skills. But they have no idea who to hire and their front office culture won’t embrace new thinking. The Tigers think they’re fooling their fans, promising fun and exciting young prospects, but the scouting department lags behind other organizations. Detroit just lost 114 games, after two straight 98-loss seasons. Buckle up, Tiger Nation, triple-digit losses are guaranteed the next few years. By the time the owners either sell the team or realize Alex Avila can’t build a winner, they will need at least another five years to get the franchise back on track.
The world is treating me bad, misery I’m the kind of guy Who never used to cry The world is treatin’ me bad, misery
“Ticket To Ride”
In 2019 the Minnesota Twins launched 307 home runs. Think about that: the team hit nearly two home runs per game, every one of them with a “ticket to ride” out of the park.
“With A Little Help From My Friends”
The Kansas City Royals are one of the biggest beneficiaries of the redistributed wealth in Major League Baseball. Every year since the luxury tax was instituted in 1997, the Royals have received money from a pool paid into by the larger market teams that exceeded a salary threshold. The Royals also receive money every year from the revenue sharing pool (like all 30 teams do), and last season in 2018, that figure exceeded $200 million. Every year, the Glass family, owners of the Royals, receive checks for well over $250 million from the league, but do they reinvest that money in the product on the field? Not particularly. In 2019 their player salary ranked 24th out of the 30 big league teams, and they have consistently ranked in the bottom five or ten teams in the sport in salary for the last three decades. Even with all that “help from their friends,” the Royals can’t seem to keep a good team on the field. The truth is: ownership doesn’t care.
Are things coming together for the Chicago White Sox? It seems that way, as young players like batting champion Tim Anderson, slugging outfielder Eloy Jimenez, third baseman Yoan Moncada, and second baseman Yolmer Sanchez are germinating in their lineup. Pitching will need to improve for the Southsiders to return to the playoffs, but with the AL Central opening wide up, the ChiSox should be drifting to the top of the standings the next few years.
Dan Holmes is an author and baseball historian. He previously worked for the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum and Major League Baseball. He once defeated George Brett in Texas Hold Em poker and faced Phil Niekro's knuckleball. He has two daughters and he writes regularly about baseball and many other topics.